Proof before the reprinting and editioning of state V for the portfolio, "Quarantania," published in 1990.
In this composition, and appearing in state II, Bourgeois depicts three eggs in a bowl in reference to her three children. The artist used the same symbolism in "Stamp of Memories I," 1994 and in "Dancing Insect" of 1999 (see Related Works in the Catalogue below). Bourgeois had three sons: Michel, Jean-Louis, and Alain.
Portfolio: Since Galerie Lelong was exhibiting Bourgeois's sculpture, Jean Frémon, a gallery director, proposed undertaking a print project with her. It was decided to reprint plates executed earlier and still in Bourgeois's possession, because this work was unknown to the public. In 1990, after the plates had been stored for more than forty years, they were newly printed by Piero Crommelynck, and published for this portfolio. Only "Quarantania" (9), titled "Bosom Lady" in the 1940s, was reworked in 1990 by the artist.
The 1990 reprints differ in appearance from the 1940s impressions, due to corrosion of the plates and accidental scratching over time. Also, professional printing with uniform inking and wiping creates a darker plate tone. The prints were gathered in a portfolio to represent the work from the 1940s, with the title "Quarantania," deriving from the French "quarante," meaning "forty."
In preparing this project, proofs were also pulled from other old plates in the artist's possession. However, the poor condition of those plates made it impossible to achieve acceptable impressions (see "Youth," 1941-1944; "Laurel Easton," 1944; "Dame," 1948; and "The Burner," 1948). Proofs were also pulled from a 1970s and a 1980s plate. These were editioned and published as "Spirales," c. 1974, and "Femme Maison," 1984. Bourgeois chose a cover resembling that of "He Disappeared into Complete Silence," 1947 because she saw "Quarantania" as a continuation of that work.
In an interview for the 1994 catalogue, "The Prints for Louise Bourgeois," the artist remarked, "This is very revealing. That is what I am after... to dig and to reveal. A very definite mood is shown: it is happiness... it is a portrait... very intimate and very happy. It is in contrast to the dark self-portraits of low self-esteem. She is very pleased... as pleased as can be. She is at ease in her body... she is very confident. These are her three eggs... her three children... her three jewels. The bird will take care of the eggs... but the bird can also escape by flight." (Quote cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 70.)
In another interview for that catalogue, the artist related "Bosom Lady" to her composition titled, "Champfleurette, the White Cat." Regarding "Champfleurette," she said: "The charm items are the hair and the high heels... and also, her nails are done! The face is goody-goody... the eyes are lowered... the paws are very relaxed... she is comfortable. You can tell she is pleased with herself. She wants to impress. She is the same as the 'Bosom Lady'." (Quote cited in Wye and Smith, p. 232.)
The plate was only partially printed for this impression, as the sheet was slighly smaller than the plate.
The type of paper, plate dimensions, and artist's inscription on the verso could not be documented because this impression is not in MoMA's Collection and could not be examined in person. Information comes from previous cataloguing in Wye and Smith, p. 70.
The alternate title for this composition comes from the inscription on the wrapper for the plate.
The colophon for the “Quarantania” portfolio states that the plates were engraved by Bourgeois at Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17 workshop in 1947. However, dates for the compositions vary and the fact that all were printed at Hayter’s workshop could not be confirmed.
In the second half of the 1940s, Bourgeois spent time at Atelier 17, the print workshop of Stanley William Hayter. The workshop had transferred operations from Paris to New York during the war years. It is not known precisely which prints she made at the workshop since she also worked at home on a small press. The designation of “the artist at Atelier 17” as printer means that the impression was likely made at the workshop. The designation is based on dates, inscriptions, techniques favored at Atelier 17, and/or stylistic similarities to images in the illustrated book “He Disappeared into Complete Silence,” which the artist repeatedly cited as having been made at Atelier 17. It is also possible that Bourgeois worked on certain plates both at home and at the workshop, or pulled impressions at both places.
Former Cat. No.:
W & S 28
Bibliothèque Nationale de France; Joslyn Art Museum; Kunstmuseum Bern; Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
If you are interested in reproducing images from The Museum of Modern Art web site, please visit the Image Permissions page (www.moma.org/permissions). For additional information about using content from MoMA.org, please visit About this Site (www.moma.org/site).